Technology: The Next Major Battleground

A new breed of chips challenges 25 years of computer design

Silicon Valley has not seen such a bumper crop since it stopped growing peaches and prunes and began producing computer chips. Hardly a week has gone by this spring without a ballyhooed announcement of a new semiconductor or a line of high-speed computers. At the center of the excitement is a new breed of microprocessors that promises to give computer manufacturers their biggest performance boost in a decade. Lightning fast, the chips make it possible to put the power of ten to 20 refrigerator-size minicomputers into a single desktop-size machine.

Of all the announcements, none has generated as much anticipation as...

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